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December 01, 2014


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@ anon

I don't think Al is suggesting the historical record provides us a clear picture of Jesse Hollin's guilt or innocence. Certainly his advocates are raising a defense that is no longer accepted today.

What Al is pointing out is that it is very clear that JH did not receive a fair trial in the first or second instances. I think you've acknowledged this much in your posts.

So on to trial #3. I think Al is suggesting that based on the racism and injustice that permeated the southern court systems, as well as southern society, it is more probable than not that JH did not receive a fair trial the third time.

What gives him the support to make this suggestion? There is extensive documentation of Jim Crow era cases where black men accused of assaulting white women were subject to laughable prosecutions. In contrast, there is scant to non-existent evidence that local trial courts in Oklahoma and the south consistently protected the due process rights of black defendants in these circumstances.

Since there is ample evidence that southern courts routinely denied black defendants basic due process rights, I think it's fair for Al to suggest that this likely happened at JH's third trial. Since we apparently don't have a record of the third trial, this is the best we can do - draw from the historical evidence and make a conclusion.

Al's standing on a pretty strong foundation, it's on you to show that Al is misguided. To counter Al, your burden is to establish that Jim Crow era southern trial courts routinely protected the rights of black defendants accused of committing crimes against whites. Then we can reasonably draw the conclusion that JH likely received a fair third trial. If you can demonstrate that, then Al and the rest of us would need to amend our reasoning.



Thank you for your comment. But, I couldn't disagree more about the burden of persuasion here.

We don't write history, or tell stories, based on surmise and conjecture. We don't say a man was innocent if we don't know this to be sure, and we don't confirm smears of historical figures without some actual basis.

Al has written, elsewhere, that many believe in JH's innocence. Al clearly is of that view and would not accept, it appears, any outcome other than acquittal as fair. In my view, it is incumbent on the historian to support any such assertion of belief based on prejudice (that is, the prejudgment that JH must have been innocent and therefore any jury finding otherwise was racist).

If a black man was never acquitted in OK at the time, I would take that to be some grounds for surmise. But, I asked about that issue above, and never heard a cogent reply; just vague generalities that sound to broad to be applied to any specific case. And, that is my point.

We see this today. There is police misconduct. Therefore, we conclude that a certain person was the victim of police misconduct. The stories begin: the person was hunted down and executed, the person was on his knees begging for mercy, the person was shot in the back while running away. Passions are inflamed. Demonstrable lies are told, under oath, and go unpunished. Meanwhile, some say, "Well, there is police misconduct. It must all be true."

I don't deny that injustice exists. I deplore it. I'm simply pleading for a bit of accuracy, a bit less prejudice in reporting (such as placing the words "all white" after the decision makers whose decisions you didn't like but not mentioning race when discussing all those who fought for justice for JH and held in his favor), a bit less willingness to accept at face value slanted and cartoonish representations of the people involved in a particular incident, a bit less almost eagerness to assert the factual innocence of a defendant that you have no reason to believe was factually innocent, a bit of recognition that all the "white people" involved in the JH matter were not racists, and finally, a bit of caution when choosing examples to illustrate a point.

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